Thursday, April 24, 2008

That guy with glasses

Today I had a small class of repeat students (students who failed a required course and are repeating it) doing a quiz that I made from questions devised by first and second year students for homework in the last couple of years. These repeat students are all third or fourth year. I don't know how many are in the class because we don't have the lists yet, but so far I have seen thirteen. In the three weeks so far nobody has managed to come all three times, which probably explains why they failed in the first place.

There were nine today, so I had them in two groups, asking each other these quiz questions. Some of the questions could more accurately be called definitions, some are general knowledge questions, and some are simple-but-tricky questions dreamed up by the more devious-minded of my previous students. ("Yesterday this day was tomorrow" makes eyeballs swivel as students try to figure it out.)

Today I discovered that third- and fourth-year students are no better at general knowledge than first and second year students. In the group of five, somebody asked,

"Who is the Prime Minister of Japan?" and once they'd figured out what Prime Minister meant, the entire group fell silent. Finally a girl said,

"Oh, I know! It's that guy with glasses, right?"

But the bit I enjoyed the most was a little later, when a definition question came up:

"You use these when you eat. They are long and thin."

There was a long silence as students tried to figure out what long and thin things were used for eating. Finally one of them understood what was meant but couldn't think of the English word. He got terribly excited, because it was on the tip of his tongue and he really wanted the point. He hadn't been doing very well so far and they were getting very competitive about the whole thing.

"I KNOW! I KNOW!" he shouted. "CHIP- ... CHIP- ... CHIP- ... I KNOW! I KNOW! CHIP- ... CHIP- ... !"

I couldn't help it.

"Chipstocks?" I asked, innocently, over my shoulder. (I was half listening and half making name cards.)

"CHIPSTOCKS!" he shouted. Then he frowned. "Eh? No, hang on ... "

One of the others in his group suddenly got it.

"CHOPSTICKS!" he shouted, and got the point.

The first student turned and glared at me, half-laughing and half-accusing, as the others mocked him.

"Chipstocks! Ha ha ha!"

"Sorry," I said.

I felt a little ashamed. Teachers are supposed to help, or at least keep out of the game. We're not supposed to make things worse.

I should remember that.


Keera Ann Fox said...

You should give Mr Chipstock half a point. And then never, ever do that again. Follow my father's rule of life: Never repeat a mistake; always make a new one. (And no, that's not why there's only one of me. I know you were wondering.)

Lia said...

Teachers are allowed to have fun, too. Thanks for making me laugh. Again.

torrygirl said...

General knowledge questions would definitely catch me out if I was trying to learn another language. I'm bad enough at them in English!